Additional comments – Australian Greens

Additional comments – Australian Greens

1.1The Australian Greens support Australia taking a more open and transparent approach to negotiating trade agreements, both before and during negotiations. To this effect, the European Union model, which the Chair’s report details, offers significant benefits such as making draft text and final agreements publicly available prior to signing. This encourages public scrutiny of agreements before they are signed which can lead to better outcomes.

1.2The United States model offers some benefits but, as highlighted by evidence from witnesses and the Chair’s report, offers greater transparency and access to a select few and has tended to favour business groups. It is important that everyone has some level of access to information relating to the agreement being negotiated, not just handpicked groups.

1.3Further to this, it is vital that any trade agreements support the rights of First Nations peoples, the Australian Council of Trade Unions advocates for this to be in legislation among other requirements.[1] This must include consulting directly with communities, businesses, as well as organisations before and during negotiations, assessing the impacts that agreements should have on First Nations peoples and respecting the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Further, this must include having regard to intellectual property protections for art, native plants and botanicals, songs, dances, and other cultural expressions.

1.4The submission put forward by the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network similarly highlights the need to assess the impacts on First Nation groups but it also broadens this to include economic, regional, health, gender and environmental impacts.[2] The Greens support this suggestion.

1.5Finally, The Australian Greens strongly believe that trade agreements should be supporting fair and sustainable trade that bring benefits to all members of agreements and uphold human rights, labour rights and environmental sustainability.

Senator Dorinda Cox


[1]Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission 49, p. 23.

[2]Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, Submission 8, p. 3.